Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
January 30, 2009

In an official ceremony on December 10, 2008, ten villages in the Perillaveli area of Eastern Sri Lanka were released to local officials after the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) completed clearance of mines and explosive remnants of war. The cleanup operations, completed between March and September 2008, received $449,000 from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. Funding was also contributed by the Government of Japan and the European Commission Humanitarian Office. The project included the active cooperation of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Nation Building, the Sri Lankan Army and the United Nations Development Program mine action team.

FSD cleared 1,837,768 square meters of village and farm land to enable the resettlement of 310 displaced families. Sites cleared included homes, roads, wells, community buildings, religious temples, irrigation channels, water tanks, schools, a dispensary area and much agricultural land. The FSD employed manual clearance, mechanical area verification with mini flail machines and battle area clearance techniques to complete the project. Over 50 local deminers from the affected communities were hired and trained to be part of the ongoing operations. A graduation ceremony for these new trainees was included in the ceremony.

During its operations in Sri Lanka last year, FSD found and destroyed 4,201 anti-personal mines and detonators and 217 pieces of unexploded ordnance across 4,380,019 square meters of land. In addition to the Perillaveli project, U.S. Department of State funding in 2008 supported multiple high priority humanitarian demining tasks in Eastern Sri Lanka.

Several relief organizations are now helping the affected families to resettle after almost two years of displacement. Mine risk education is the next step to ensure the population is aware of the possible threats it may still encounter when going deep into the countryside.

To learn more about the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement’s humanitarian mine action programs and small arms/light weapons destruction activities around the world, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.